Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Knyff, Leonard

KNYFF, LEONARD (1650–1721), painter, born at Haarlem, on 10 Aug. 1650, was third son of Wouter Knyff, painter, by his second wife, Lydia Leenderts of Delft, widow of Jacob Bas of Haarlem. Knyff was known as a painter of birds and animals. He came to England about 1690, and settled in Westminster. He devoted himself in England to topographical drawing and painting, and made many drawings in Westminster and its vicinity. He is known principally by the series of bird's-eye views of palaces and gentlemen's seats in Great Britain, drawn by him and engraved by his fellow-countryman and neighbour in Westminster, Johannes Kip [q. v.], for vol. i. of ‘Britannia Illustrata,’ or ‘Nouveau Théâtre de la Grande Bretagne,’ published by Mortier in 1708. Knyff does not appear to have contributed to the later volumes. These drawings, though stiff and uninteresting as artistic productions, are of great archæological value. A good specimen, ‘The North Prospect of Windsor Castle,’ is in the possession of Mr. John H. Arkwright (Eton Loan Exhibition, 1891). Knyff died in Westminster in 1721. His collection of pictures was sold by auction in May 1723.

[Vertue's MSS. (Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 23069, 23073); Vander Willigen's Artistes de Haarlem; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum.]

L. C.